Cornelius Cardew's Treatise 

Treatise is a musical composition by British composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981). Treatise is a graphic musical score comprising 193 pages of lines, symbols, and various geometric or abstract shapes that eschew conventional musical notation. Implicit in the title is a reference to the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, which was of particular inspiration to Cardew in composing the work. The score neither contains nor is accompanied by any explicit instruction to the performers in how to perform the work. Cardew worked on the composition from 1963 to 1967.

Although the score allows for absolute interpretive freedom (no one interpretation will sound like another), the work is not normally played spontaneously, as Cardew had previously suggested that performers devise in advance their own rules and methods for interpreting and performing the work. There are, however, almost infinite possibilities for the interpretation of Treatise that fall within the implications of the piece and general principles of experimental music performance in the late 1960s, including presentation as visual art and map-reading (Anderson 2006).

This performance of Treatise was presented as a MUSICIRCUS in Eyedrum’s parking garage on June 19, 2016. Six to eight ensembles participated in performing various excepts culminating in the entire work.  Throughout the musicircus, listeners wandered through the venue, explored the sounds created by individual ensembles, and experienced the amalgamation of all the sounds echoing throughout the garage.  

A special thanks to Eyedrum Music & Art Gallery in Atlanta, GA and Robby Kee for hosting such a great event! Click to find out more about Eyedrum Music & Art Gallery!


Josh Alexander, Majid Araim, Zach Benator, Michael Brooks, Carlos Camacho, Jeff Crompton, Bethany Davison, Zach Dawson, Philippe Delage, Ellis Elize, Lowell Fuchs (Concert Director), Chris Gravely, Adam Gresham, Rob Holley, Olivia Kiefer, Jared Le Doux, Jimi Michiel, Amy O’Dell, Ian Smith, Michael Standard, Dillon Tanksley, & Zach Webb. 

Photography by Carlos Camacho & Leslee Fuchs 
Video by Carlos Camacho